Dairy farmers quizzed on 'M.bovis' payment

Input is being sought from dairy farmers on how the dairy sector will pay its share of the Mycoplasma bovis response programme.

In May last year, the Government and farming sector leaders agreed to a phased eradication plan, rather than long-term management of the bacterial cattle disease.

The Government estimated the total expected response cost over 10 years to be $870million, of which it was paying $591million, the dairy sector $262million and the beef sector $17.4million.

In December, DairyNZ announced the biosecurity response levy would be required to pay for dairy's contribution.

Consultation on that levy was now under way and the industry organisation wanted to hear from all dairy farmers, chairman Jim van der Poel said in a statement.

It was proposed the levy be set at a maximum of 3.9c kg milk solids to be reviewed annually. Once the costs of the response were recovered over two years, the levy would reduce significantly unless there was another biosecurity response required.

For example, an average farm milking 430 cows would pay a maximum about $6100 a year, for two years, for the response.

''We understand that the financial contribution to the M.bovis response, via the levy, will be challenging for some farmers.

''However, we believe it was the right decision to eradicate rather than let the disease spread through our stock. Letting M.bovis spread would have been a more serious challenge and much higher and longer lasting costs,'' Mr van der Poel said.

Farmers were encouraged to attend meetings throughout the country this month to hear more and provide feedback.

In an update to farmers this week, Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor said the organisation was finalising its consultation proposal and consultation was due to begin in the next few weeks.

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